Listen to talk radio
Tune in and dial up the frequency of your brainwaves.
There are talk radio people. And there are music radio people. Kind of.
I'll be honest, I'm more in the latter group. I used to take the view that kids were either raised on spoken-word radio, or music radio - and once you had been indoctrinated, you stayed in your lane. Or didn't 'cross the streams'.
But then, several years ago I got a job as news presenter on the breakfast show of a music radio station.
Let me just state for the record: I am NOT a morning person.
Noting this, one of my fellow bleary-eyed colleagues recommended I listen to London based talk radio station LBC. Despite the fact that our own station played banging house music all the live-long day, my colleagues waxed lyrical about the early show on LBC.
Clearly there is no music on such a station - apart from stingers between segments. And during the graveyard shift (when breakfast show presenters are still stumbling around in the dark, trying to find their socks) there's a certain comfort to be found from hearing other poor souls who also need to be up at that ungodly hour, phoning in to talk about whatever subject the presenter has decided to discuss on a whim.
At first, I was reticent. My colleague at our station wouldn't let up though. So eventually I gave it a go - and finally saw the light (or was that the dawn?).
Conversations with milkmen, NHS workers, chefs, bin men and even bankers working through the night - it was an odd array of kindred spirits who needed to make a connection with their fellow human and broadcast it to the world. The fact that less than half the world was listening only seemed to amplify what a strange set of bedfellows they often were.
But what a wonderful world to dip your toe into. I was frequently inspired by people's simultaneous uniqueness and their weird collective oneness.
Listening to a phone-in show at that time of the morning really stirred my brain into gear. It was the perfect way to kickstart my engine and get me to a place where I could not only communicate with my colleagues in more than mere grunts, but also make the mental connections necessary to jabber live on air.
My Smashie and Nicey days are behind me now - but I still find creative inspiration from turning on talk radio. Albeit now I listen to it when the sun is well into the sky.
I think its value as a source of ideas lies in the fact that I get to overhear conversations I wouldn't normally be a party to. Maybe I'll agree with what's being discussed on air. Maybe I'll vehemently disagree.
Perversely, I actually think talk radio's creative benefits are at their most compelling when a discussion point annoys the crap out of me.
It's not like I'm going to have a massive change of heart on a particular issue (although, who knows). It's more that I simply get to hear 'different stuff'. And stuff that's different is what feeds our creative brain.
So even if I end up waving my fist at the radio, all that angry arm shaking will only help stir up the synapses to form some new creative connections.
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